Silent Vigil

Title: Silent Vigil
Time Period: June 3, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

  • The Children

Summary: The feast will happen at the full moon.

When God was alive, he protected us, he watched over us.

In the glittering candlelight, the boy behind the podium holds his hands up high, his fingers moving in quick and complex gestures. The wide armed sleeves of the ancient alb he wears are frayed at the cuff, the embroidery nothing more than a memory of holes where once was thread. He pauses and looks out over the crowd. More than a dozen sets of brown eyes are all focused on him and on the signs.

But the devil rose up with his demons and they went to heaven and kicked god’s ass, tore up all of his stuff, and trashed his place. His throne is tipped over. The angels are cast out of heaven, wandering and lost.

The flames behind the boy rise up, as if on cue, licking the slick wall and burning off the mold with a pungent smoke. When he lifts his chin, the thin red scar on his throat seems so much darker. He looks out over the crowd, scanning each face, each set of brown eyes, each scar that could be the twin of his own.

Be careful of the followers of the false god, the ones who feed the beast. They worship what’s left up there, the magic that wrecked heaven and put us here. Stay low and in the shadows, don’t show your eyes, don’t show your hair. The witch is always watching.

He steps down from behind the stand, his height shrinking so much that his hands are reduced to lifting the robe in front to keep from tripping. The rest of it drags behind, its edge growing darker from the mud and rat droppings that roll from beneath the hem. Reaching a series of small cages, he begins to hand them off to the other children. Each is silent as he or she accepts the gift with bowed head and closed lips. Once everyone is host to a cooing parcel, they turn back toward the podium.

Slowly, the boy climbs up on the pedestal and raises his arms to the ceiling of the dark cavern. His hands work furiously to sign instructions to the masses below him. There’s a hiss of lost voices from all of the followers, silent cheers for the preacher that they can’t hear but then again, no one else can either. Once the whisper dissipates, the children disperse in smaller groups to different tunnels.

One remains.

A boy much taller than the rest, almost a man but between the two of them, it's one of the only visible differences. Sickly olive skin that hasn't seen much sun, dusty brown hair that will turn shades darker as they both age, and dark brown eyes that squint in the barest of sunlight.

They have their tribute, the feast will happen when the moon shows its full face in the sky. The older boy signs, his spindly fingers are calloused at the pads and fingers. He is dressed in soft patchy leathers, likely stitched together from the hides of small animals. Rats or Cats. Maybe both. A pregnant pause happens as both sets of hands grow still. A meaningful gaze passes between the two of them and the older one shakes his head. No, not one of our own. Scab found him along the edge of the unknown when he was looking for food. The witch saw him and declared him fit, even though he’s so old.

Dirty brown hair falls into the younger boy’s eyes as he looks down at the space between their feet, before that it was the taller boy’s hands. His lips press into a thin line as he turns away, deafening himself to the words of the older. His shoulders roll forward when he folds his arms across his chest, making him seem even smaller in comparison. Finally, he turns back, candlelight glittering off the tears lining his lower lids.

He’s helpless.

He’s so old? He waits for the nod in answer before returning it with one of the same. Then he’s lived a good life. We can’t help him.